Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Columbia's Cola-Con weekend is here. Part of that was a symposium at USC on studying and teaching comics.
Students, faculty and comic book fans alike were invited to the symposium.
But what is it about comics that brings fans back over and over?
"I think there's a big element of wish fulfillment," said Roy Thomas,who said he's been reading comics for almost 50 years.
Asking around, similar answers are heard.
"There's always a story, and it has a plot, and the characters are compelling," said Jennifer Bartell, a third-year USC Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing student said.
One more answer pointed to the very nature of comics.
"You can lose yourself. It's the fantasy, the fun," said Patrick Gilmore, a junior at USC studying biology and computer science.
Every year, thousands of comic book fans flock to Columbia's Cola-Con weekend.
Thomas, who served as Editor-in-Chief for Marvel Comics from from 1972 - 1974, said the ability to see one's own life through characters that make it worthwhile.
"Readers see these characters as embodiment's of what they would like to be, what maybe they should be, in a way," Thomas said. "There's something to strive for. You'd like to feel you're a little like Superman or Batman in helping people."
Thomas said the age of the average comics book reader has increased because they've grown up with the characters, and the characters have grown up with them, as well.
Gilmore said he's always been interested in writing, and comics create a possible way for him to explore that interest.
"I've been doing creative writing for as long as I could," Gilmore said. "I know I'm a biology major, but I do love to write, and maybe one day I could get something out there. Maybe a short story [or] something, you know."
Another aspect of interest, according to Thomas, is the fact that 'juvenile concepts' can be enjoyed by adults going to movies.
Bartell said that is particularly what interests her as a story-teller.
"You get invested in the characters and what's going to happen," she said.
As for the direction of the genre into the future, Thomas had a predicition.
"The real question now is are you going to be able to attract young kids to this comic book world that is increasingly aimed at a much older readership," he said.
The full Cola-Con convention will continue Saturday at the Columbia Convention Center.
Visit the Cola-Con website o view more information or purchase tickets: http://cola-con.com/